The Jaguars-Saints game is one of 13 games in the NFL this weekend that'll take a backseat to THE game, the Patriots at the Colts. It's the game of the year. Unfortunately, I won't see any of it.
That's what it means to be a sportswriter. I was asked this week in "Ask Vic" if I'm a fan and I said I was a reporter. I was amazed at how many people were offended by that comment. I really don't get it. It's a job. Why is that so difficult to understand?
I won't see any of the Pats-Colts game because I'll be in the Jaguars' postgame locker room, then on a bus and, finally, on an airplane writing stories about the Jaguars-Saints game as the Pats and Colts are playing out the most hyped regular season NFL game in recent memory. Jobs are like that. Sometimes you have to work on a holiday, right?
What I'm going to miss the most is seeing how Bill Belichick is going to attack the Colts defensively. I'll find out through sources but I wish I could see it play by play.
I've long been a proponent of the quarterback-must-go-down philosophy. In my opinion, you must disrupt the quarterback or you're going to lose; anything to put pressure on the quarterback. I believe completely in that philosophy.
It is the opinion of most defensive coordinators, however, that selling out to rush Peyton Manning is a sure formula for disaster. The feeling is that you won't get home with the rush and he'll pick you apart, so most defensive coordinators prefer the slow-death approach. Yuk!
I understand the part about getting home. If it's rush or cover and you pick rush, then you better get home with it. I've also witnessed the cover philosophy and, in my opinion, not only has it failed miserably, it's basically allowed Manning to go through his career without getting his uniform dirty. Hey, why not make him break a sweat? Why not rough him up a little?
So what will Belichick do? He's the genius of all defensive geniuses. I want to see which he'll choose: rush or cover. I won't see it, however, because I'm a reporter.
Here are 10 things the team I cover has to do to beat the Saints on Sunday.
- Execute the game plan—Jack Del Rio and his staff drew up a winner last week.
- Get Fred his yards—Fred Taylor needs 67 yards to reach 10,000 yards rushing in his career. A little mid-game celebration would provide a nice pick-me-up.
- Stop the pass—The Saints win with their passing game, which has battled back to eighth in the league after the team's 0-4 start.
- Rush the passer—That's how you stop the pass. It worked in Tampa and it'll work in New Orleans. It always works.
- Play a little better at QB—Quinn Gray won't get away with last week's performance two weeks in a row. The Saints will force him to be more of a factor. He needs to take his play up a level.
- Leave nothing on the field—Every trip into the red zone must produce points. The Jaguars have very little margin for error.
- Win special teams—Rookie punter Adam Podlesh may not have the average he'd like, but big plays in the punting game have won the Jaguars two games.
- Use both hands—And catch the ball.
- Look at the calendar—I'd like to say feel it in the air, but this one will be played inside. It's November. This is the true football time of the year.
- Find motivation—You can't play this game without emotion. Each player has to find his on button.